John Carpenter, the unsung hero of genre cinema, has many, many creations that have taken on a life of their own: Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, and more. But one film remains his most quotable, They Live. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Roddy Piper and both his mighty mane and his super-powered shades ARE the ’80s. So let’s consider all the one-liners that brought the spicy kick to this ridiculously badass gumbo.
“The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.” – Frank
Just after Nada (Piper) arrives in town and befriends Frank (Keith David), the two share a meal at the homeless encampment. There, Frank vents about how hard it is to find work in America and the corrupt ruling class that seems to pull all the strings. However, the two didn’t know quite yet that the powerful elite were not of this world.
“You see, I take these glasses off, she looks like a regular person, doesn’t she? Put ’em back on… formaldehyde-face!” — Nada
While Nada is still figuring out how his special sunglasses work, an older woman bumps into him at a grocery store. Except she’s not a woman; his specs reveal she is a foul-looking creature in hiding. And because Nada gives zero f*cks, he decides to call out the disguised extraterrestrial with this colorful exchange.
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” — Nada
Nada stumbles into a bank to hide from his interplanetary pursuers, only to find himself surrounded by freaky-faced aliens in hiding, thanks to his sunglasses. Perhaps most would shrink from the situation, but Nada plants his feet and declares his now-iconic bubblegum line, setting in motion a firefight with the space scum.
“Mama don’t like tattletales.” — Nada
During the showdown in the bank, Nada catches one alien reporting his description into a wrist device. He then raises his shotgun barrel and drops this line on them. But… said tattletale warps himself out of the room before Nada can get a shot off.
“I’m giving you a choice: either put on these glasses or start eatin’ that trash can.” — Nada
Before one of the most epic hand-to-hand fight scenes in all of film history, Nada attempts to convince Frank to put on his glasses with this wonderfully cheesy line. Of course, Frank refuses and the two commence trading bruises with #mantime bravado.
“Brother, life’s a b*tch… and she’s back in heat.” — Nada
After finally beating Frank into submission and forcing his special sunglasses on his cohort, Frank sees the aliens in hiding and begins to believe Nada. That’s when Nada drops this doozy of a line on him.